V-LINE innovates HR management with Centric Reference Letter Generator


V-LINE's service portfolio includes a wide range of solutions and services for optimizing end-to-end supply chains for industrial procurement. The company offers its customers customized supply concepts, guaranteeing them smooth supplies as well as uninterrupted operation of their industrial plants. Parallel to the decision to rely on the HR solution SAP SuccessFactors in the future, V-LINE EUROPE GmbH began to address the topics of digital employee files and automated reference letter generation at the beginning of 2020. For the MRO specialist, they are important components of a modern HR system. Thanks to form-based text creation, the use of SuccessFactors master data, and the rapid involvement of all parties via workflow, reference letters can be created much faster than before. Comparability is also increased.

In the four decades of its existence, V-LINE EUROPE GmbH has not used an HR solution as such. Much of the work was done with Excel spreadsheets, while recruiting was managed with a separate tool. Accounting was (and still is) outsourced. Arne Hartmann, Director Global HR and with the company since May 2019, says "Our goal is to position V-LINE as a global company even more professionally in the future, including in the HR area, and to improve internal processes." Therefore, the decision was made to implement the cloud solution SAP SuccessFactors. This will enable V-LINE to bundle all HR topics centrally. "A digital employee file and a solution that can be used to create reference letters in a standardized and transparent manner are an ideal fit for this strategy," says Arne Hartmann.

The HR team had initially put the digital employee file on hold in view of the SAP SuccessFactors implementation; creating recruiting, onboarding, learning management, and other HR processes was initially more important than digitalizing legacy documents. In the spring of 2021, the existing paper folders were converted to PDF form and incorporated in the digital employee file. All new HR documents also flow into digital employee files as of the cut-off date X.

Both products โ€“ digital employee file and reference letter generator โ€“ are from Centric; at the time they were purchased by V-LINE, they were still products from EASY Software AG. V-LINE has been using the new solution to generate reference letters since summer 2020. It was purchased via metafinanz Informationssysteme GmbH, a partner of EASY and now Centric, which also manages the entire SAP SuccessFactors project at V-LINE. The technical implementation was the responsibility of the Centric team.

“Our goal is to organize V-LINE as a globally positioned company even more professionally in the future, including in the area of human resources, and to improve internal processes. A solution that allows reference letters to be created in a standardized and transparent manner fits ideally into this strategy.”

Arne Hartmann Director Global HR

The software provides ready-made, customizable text modules

In the past, if a reference letter needed to be created, a template was first sent to the manager, who outlined the tasks and a brief evaluation of the employee. The HR department then had to copy everything down and go to great lengths to find the appropriate wording from older references or even templates in books.

The software now provides several text modules for each of the different categories (expertise, further training, comprehension, thinking and judgment skills, willingness to perform, and so on), which only have to be put together. These modules can still be individually adapted by V-LINE. In order to add further individual design scope to the standardized process, Centric also took account of V-LINE's feedback on product improvement and added an option of Word export to the product as an additional feature. This now allows individual sentences or individual formulations to be inserted between the prefabricated text modules. "Our suggestions for additions have always been met with open ears at Centric," Arne Hartmann is pleased to say.

Things need to flow

Isabelle Hutschenreuter, HR Generalist at V-LINE: "Even when creating the various types of references (such as final reference or interim reference), we select the employee directly from SAP SuccessFactors; with this approach, all personnel data is already in the document automatically." The manager previously sent the job description by e-mail; all that remains is to copy it into the free text field provided. "Then we click together the appropriate text modules in each case, and in such a way that they also fit together well stylistically." This gives the document a good reading flow. Finally, the appropriate closing wording can be selected in accordance with the reason for termination.

A reference letter within 30 minutes

With this method, a meaningful reference letter can be generated with the right structure and in the desired language within 30 minutes. "The entire process is transparent and has been significantly shortened," says Isabelle Hutschenreuter. "Today, when a supervisor or employee requests a reference letter from us, they have it on their desk two days later." In the past, when it was created via Microsoft Word, this took longer simply due to the constant follow ups via e-mail. The potential for errors was also higher, text passages were not correct in retrospect, and so on.

“Within 30 minutes, Centric's solution can produce a meaningful reference letter with the right structure and in the desired language. The entire process is transparent and has been significantly shortened.”

Isabelle Hutschenreuter HR administrator at V-LINE

Employee representatives support the new procedure

The employee representatives at V-LINE were positive about the "automated reference letter generation" project from the very beginning. After all, it works in the interest of the employees, who do not have to wait a long time for their reference letters, as is the case at many other companies. In addition, the standardization in the creation of the text also allows for better comparability, thanks to the clear formulations.

Centric will soon be adding an approval process to SAP SuccessFactors. On paper, the workflow is already in place: The manager receives a task in their task app for evaluating an employee for the purpose of reference letter generation and, in parallel, an evaluation form. The manager fills out the evaluation form, which is then automatically sent to the HR department, where the reference letter is created and printed out after the manager has checked it again. The reference is then sent directly to the digital employee file as a file โ€“ a further step in the optimization of modern HR management at V-LINE EUROPE GmbH.

About V-LINE

V-LINE EUROPE GmbH has built up unique expertise in the complex world of MRO spare parts procurement over four decades. This enables industrial customers to achieve operational excellence and significant cost savings. The company supports its customers in the maintenance and operation of the latest and most modern industrial plants and today has more than 200 employees worldwide. From its headquarters near Hanover, Germany, V-LINE provides end-to-end supply chains in 20 different countries - through its subsidiary in Saudi Arabia, primarily in the Middle East, and through its customer service centers in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as well as in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, and Korea.

Want to find out more?

We can help you optimize your document-intensive business processes and experience a new level of efficiency.